In Vitro Fertilization or IVF as it is commonly called, is a much sought after procedure by infertile couples. Normally fertilization occurs within the fallopian tube which joins the uterus (womb) to the ovary. In an IVF procedure, the fertilization between a sperm and an egg occurs in a laboratory after eggs and sperm have been collected from the desiring couple. The process involves removing a ripe egg from a woman’s body and combining that egg with sperm in a Petri dish, by a process called Laparoscopy or “aspiration.” If fertilization occurs, the embryo is implanted in the uterus to continue growth. Children that have been conceived this way are often called “test tube babies”
The world’s first test tube baby was born in 1978. The first live birth of a child conceived in vitro occurred in 1979 in Great Britain after 20 years of research by a British team. Johnson v. Calvert, 5 Cal. 4th 84, 105 (Cal. 1993). The first IVF birth in the United States took place in December, 1981. Since 1978, more than 169 clinics specializing in IVF have been established in the United States alone. IVF is expensive and can be unsuccessful. In a few cases, laboratory mix-ups (misidentified gametes, transfer of wrong embryos) have occurred, leading to legal action against the IVF provider and complex paternity suits.